~ Chicken breast recipes are fantastic alternatives to the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner! They’re so quick (often just 30 minutes!), easy, affordable and healthy. They can also be perfect for smaller parties … and a true relief if you’re tired of turkey every year. We’ve got LOTS of holiday-worthy ideas to dress them up for a delicious, memorable feast! ~
Looking for alternative Thanksgiving dinner ideas?
Yeah … me, too!
Our sprawling family (on both sides) seems to engulf more and more newlyweds and babies and unsuspecting bystanders every year. The family tree keeps sprouting more new branches than we can keep track of.
So, we always end up celebrating Thanksgiving on more than just one day to jam everybody in. Two celebrations minimum, sometimes three or four. (Good problem to have, I know!)
But nope nope … I really don’t wanna eat turkey every single time!
So, as I stared down another year of, “What can I make for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey AGAIN?” I thought I’d share my brainstorming with all of you! I found so many fantastic ideas I’m ridiculously excited about. (More than any one person could possibly make in one Thanksgiving season, no matter how big their family tree is!)
Why Are Chicken Breasts a Great Thanksgiving Alternative?
Chicken breasts are:
Quick and easy to make … and with no need to carve up a whole bird at the end
Super adaptable (and perfectly suited to Thanksgiving-y holiday flavors, just like turkey is)
Lean and healthy
A great bet if you prefer white meat and don’t want the dark meat, anyway
Ideal for smaller gatherings (although many of the recipes below can be scaled up, too)
Often a less expensive option than a whole turkey (especially at grocery stores this year), and definitely if you don’t really even need as much meat as an entire bird will yield
And, maybe most importantly for those of us who don’t need more turkey dinners back-to-back-to-back … they just simply aren’tturkey!
Special Flavors for a Special Day
But don’t worry. They also don’t have to be the same-old, same-old chicken breast recipes you make all year ’round!
I found lots of great recipes that are brimming with autumn harvest, holiday flavors. Cranberries, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, rosemary and sage … all those cozy, feel-good vibes you crave at Thanksgiving dinner. Plus some unique, creative ones to give your palate a little break, too!
And whether you wanna fire up the oven, head out to the grill, or just flip on your handy slow cooker, Instant Pot or air fryer … there’s something here you’re sure to love!
Take a look …
40 Festive Chicken Breast Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner
So pretty! Tender chicken is seasoned with autumn herbs and cooked to juicy perfection in a flavorful apple cider sauce. It's served with roasted Brussels sprouts and apples for an easy, no-fuss Thanksgiving dinner!
How Thanksgiving-y is this?!? Bone-in chicken is oven baked with a delicious cranberry-orange glaze that just begs to be spooned over autumn veggies. The recipe easily doubles for larger groups, too. (Note that, although the recipe card calls for chicken thighs, the author says you can opt for breasts instead, and go boneless, skinless if you prefer.)
This simple Thanksgiving dinner includes maple-mustard chicken breasts along with Brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and cranberries ... all baked together on one pan. Fantastic fall flavors in every bite, and the cleanup is an absolute breeze, so you have more time to relax with your family!
Creamy goat cheese is mixed with salty pistachios and chewy dried figs, then stuffed inside chicken breasts and drizzled in a sweet and tangy pan sauce made from fig jam, balsamic vinegar, and chicken broth. Luscious and richly flavorful ... yet on the table in less than 30 minutes!
How clever – and adorable! It's basically the filling of a chicken pot pie ... trapped in a mini, round squash. If you can't find round ones, never fear – regular, long zucchini will be just as delicious with the chicken, béchamel, and veggie stuffing!
A delicious symphony of flavors, with all the easy cleanup people love about sheet pan meals! The boneless skinless chicken breasts bake right along with redskin potatoes for an easy meal-in-one. They're accented with festive rosemary, crowned with a cheesy, sun-dried tomato topping, then finished with a honey-balsamic drizzle. A true family favorite!
Where are all my Instant Pot fans?!? Boy, have I got a good one here for you! With 5 stars on nearly 50 reviews, this is not to be missed. An incredible, buttery, lemon-garlic sauce cooks right along at the same time as your mini potatoes and chicken breasts, for a Thanksgiving meal with no (ahem) pressure!
This perennial favorite showcases chicken cutlets wrapped in prosciutto slices and seasoned with sage, then pan seared in olive oil and topped with a white wine sauce. It's an easy yet elegant harvest-season dinner option that always gets rave reviews!
All the action here happens on just one baking sheet for easy cleanup and a stress-free Thanksgiving – gotta love that! Chicken, baby potatoes, and holiday cranberries are perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs like rosemary and sage, with a kiss of orange and maple for sweetness. (Note that, although the recipe calls for a whole chicken, the author explains in the post that you can use only chicken breasts, if you prefer.)
This stunning skillet dinner is a little sweet, a little spicy ... and completely packed with flavor! The yogurt and harissa marinade gently tenderizes the chicken while holiday persimmons add a delicate fruitiness. Gorgeous and sure to be a conversation-starter at your Thanksgiving dinner table!
An all-in-one casserole that's a simple yet oh-so-comforting take on typical Thanksgiving fare. Creamy and nourishing, the chicken, rice, and veggies in this dish are untied by a special homemade cream of mushroom soup.
I know you guys love air frying ... and this is only gonna make you fall MORE in love! Each juicy chicken breast gets a quick bath in a punchy sauce of whole grain mustard, fresh dill, lemon, and garlic, and then it all takes less than 10 minutes to cook. No wonder this recipe has so many glowing reviews!
Why serve asparagus on the side when it can be beautifully tucked inside? Chicken breasts are stuffed with fresh asparagus and mozzarella cheese, covered in delicious spices, then baked until amazingly juicy and tender. And all of this goodness is ready in under 30 minutes!
Mmmmm ... this recipe has a bit of sweetness, a bit of cheesiness, and a LOT of deliciousness! Chicken, apples, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, onion, and pomegranate seeds are sautéed to bring out their amazing flavors. Then it's finished off with Brie wedges that get wonderfully melty and gooey in the oven ... all together in one baking dish!
Dried spices along with fresh rosemary and thyme add lots of layers of flavor to this easy one-pot meal. Don't miss the last step to make Thanksgiving gravy from the delicious juices while you let your chicken rest!
Tired of potatoes every Thanksgiving? This pretty dish still hits lots of fall notes with caramelized onions, fresh rosemary and sage, and autumn squash joining forces with sautéed chicken, crispy prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan. And in a brilliant, healthy trick: the rich sauce uses no cream at all, thanks to the silky squash!
Made with mushrooms and a rich, velvety wine sauce, this dinner party classic is a breeze to make. And extra sauce is wonderful spooned over your Thanksgiving potatoes! To keep it on the healthy side, make sure to note that you can sub evaporated milk in place of the heavy cream. (Or, if you'd rather use your slow cooker, try this version instead!)
A refreshing take on the Thanksgiving cranberry theme! These cranberry-maple glazed chicken breasts are a breath of fresh air, topped with a light cranberry salsa. Make it on your outdoor grill if the weather's lovely where you are (lucky you!), or simply fire up a grill pan on your stove indoors.
Instead of serving French Onion Soup as a starter for your Thanksgiving dinner, turn those flavors into this stunner of a main dish! Succulent chicken breasts are smothered in a savory French onion gravy, then topped with melted provolone and Gruyere cheeses for a fabulous twist on a classic!
An easy Thanksgiving option, this dish absolutely screams "fall harvest" with its sweet apples and savory butternut squash, cooked low and slow with chicken breasts and a sweet maple syrup sauce. Let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting, while you relax and enjoy your holiday!
This mouthwatering 30-minute recipe is made with a simple, sweet and tangy honey-garlic sauce with a touch of soy sauce that gives a little nod to your favorite Asian restaurant meals ... but still feels appropriate at the Thanksgiving table, too.
A lively quartet of fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage team up with crushed macadamias in the festive coating of this quick chicken dish. It'll go so nicely next to practically any side dishes you choose!
This dish is especially wonderful if some of your guests are on special diets, since it's dairy free, gluten free, paleo and keto. Yet it's still so flavorful from the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, with a gorgeous, silky sauce that's great for spooning over potatoes, wild rice, or vegetables – straight from the rustic cast iron skillet! (Note that you can grab either chicken tenders or whole breasts, whichever you prefer.)
Wishing your Thanksgiving holiday was somehow being celebrated in the sunny Mediterranean? I don't have a plane ticket for ya, but I can offer up this lovely combination of cozy, autumn flavors (like carrots, mushrooms, and poultry seasoning) ... with Mediterranean-inspired tomatoes, Kalamatas, basil, and feta. Find your happy place, wherever you'll be celebrating!
The luxurious lemon-butter sauce makes chicken breasts worthy of a holiday feast. Yet, this recipe needs only 8 ingredients, and is on the table in just 30 easy minutes! To keep this dish on the lighter side, note that the author says it's still delicious if you leave out the tiny final dash of heavy cream.
A true celebration! Similar to Beef Wellington, but healthier, less expensive, and easier, too. For this elegant recipe, boneless chicken breasts are stuffed with a delicious mixture of chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, cranberries, and brandy, all wrapped up in prosciutto and then puff pastry. It's a great main course for preparing ahead of time, so all you need to do is pop it in the oven!
Full of flavor and wonderfully moist! Chicken breasts are seasoned before baking, then delectably basted with a Thanksgiving-worthy glaze featuring apple cider, Dijon, honey, and orange juice, plus a seasoning blend of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and chili powder.
A fragrant, sage-kissed cream sauce drapes alluringly over pan-seared chicken breasts. An ideal, saucy main to serve alongside Thanksgiving sides like roasted root vegetables, sweet potatoes, broccoli, or red potatoes!
Everybody loves bruschetta appetizers, so why not leverage that love and turn it into a crowd-pleasing chicken dinner? This cheesy, Italian-inspired recipe is especially great if you're having Thanksgiving dinner multiple days (like me!) and want a break from the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving!
Apple and cheddar are an all-American autumn flavor combo. Add some seasonal herbs, and they're an ideal stuffing for juicy chicken breasts! A luscious, 5-minute apple-Dijon pan sauce is an unbeatable finishing flourish.
What could be easier than the simple steps of making an entire Thanksgiving dinner in your slow cooker?!? Give this one a try and see why it's got nearly a perfect 5-star rating on hundreds of reviews!
This easy sheet pan dinner features roasted chicken breasts, potatoes, carrots, and leeks, seasoned with garlic, bay leaves, and thyme ... plus an unusual twist from a French chili pepper called piment d'Espelette (although you can substitute a mild chili powder or paprika). Spread in a single layer, it all bakes in under 30 minutes, and cleanup couldn’t be easier!
Wanna straddle the line between tradition and adventure? Thanksgiving-y pumpkin is the perfect backdrop to bold, curry-style flavors in this hearty dish full of tender chicken, warm spices, and creamy coconut milk.
Need More Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas?
Ok … so whatcha gonna make to go with your Thanksgiving chicken recipe, now that you’ve found the perfect one to try?
I’m still not sure what I’ll be serving on Thanksgiving Dinner Part II at our house this year (or Part III or IV if those end up happening), but I’ve had so much fun coming up with this scrumptious list of ideas.
I feel armed and ready for a celebration-worthy, alternative feast situation! Hope you’re feeling that way now, too.
Whatever you’re cooking, and wherever you’re celebrating, I hope your heart is happy and your belly is full of something wonderful.